I have seldom been so enthusiastic about having to review (yet) another mouse as when we received the Logitech MX Revolution Cordless Laser Mouse. The MX Revolution might sound like marketing hype but it is a Revolution in more ways than one. If you can see beyond the initial price shock this is arguably the best all-purpose mouse out there and we will show you why.
When it comes to peripherals and particularly "human interface devices" Logitech has an amazing track record. Not just the units sold but the innovation that comes with that. You have heard the saying " build a better mousetrap and people will rush to your door to buy it" but this is probably more true if you can just build a better mouse! Which is what Logitech has done with the last two models, the VX and the MX. We published earlier on the VX, the notebook model, and now it is time to put its big brother to the test.
It's hard to believe that the MX has been two years in the making but then again if you open the MX there is a huge amount of innovative technology to make our mousing experience so much more effective. Let's see what led to having to reinvent the wheel. Which is exactly what Logitech has done.
First a quick walk around. Just have a look at the design: sleek, sharp, sculpted and smooth. The left side has a rubberised feel to it which I absolutely love. To know why you should see my old mouse: covered in rubber strips. There is nothing like a good grip! The humble scroll wheel has made way for the Microgear Precision Scroll Wheel and more about that later. There is another scroll wheel located under your thumb. There are two buttons just above that and another just on top. Clearly, multi-functionality is the MX's middle name. Being a wireless mouse, the MX has a rechargeable battery and doesn't run on expensive AA batteries like my previous one. This is a huge improvement and can easily justify the initial higher price. How much charge is left is indicated next to the Logitech logo with three soft green LEDs and a battery symbol which glow whenever you move the mouse. Turn over the MX and you'll see the on/off button and four ultra smooth gliders.
Microgear Precision Scroll Wheel
Now back to the Microgear Precision Scroll Wheel. It sounds important but why was it necessary to overhaul an already very practical scroll wheel? Did you realise that the average computer user spins the scroll wheel on his/her mouse approximately 26 feet in an eight-hour day? That incredible little fact would be cause for some serious RSI down the track. We scroll that much because word-processing documents are growing longer, coupled with an ever increasing number of digital photos and music files stored on our hard-drives. And on average, people seem to have six applications open on their computer at any one time, and the active window switches every 50 seconds in an eight hour day. Well, that sounds like me alright!
The Microgear Precision Scroll Wheel is a work of ingenuity, geared to scroll down long documents at the flick of your middle finger. This free-spin scrolling essentially allows the scroll wheel to become a flywheel, capable of speeding past thousands of spreadsheet rows (I managed to scroll all the way through a whole Excel file with 65536 rows) or hundreds of word-processing pages just like that. In order to be capable of spinning over 20 secs (!) at maximum effort, the new scroll wheel is nearly six times heavier than a normal one. Of course, the familiar click-to-click precision scrolling is also available.
SmartShift application- and task-sensing technology detects the active application and task at hand, instantly switching between the two scrolling modes as needed. Initially, I was not aware of the SmartShift mode of making life easier for you and when I pressed the scroll wheel down like when you use it as a middle click, I engaged the free-spinning mode. I use the middle click function quite a lot when I browse and want to click on another link and apparently it is either a choice of assigning the middle click function manually or just relying on the SmartShift capability.
I normally have my scroll wheel set where it advances one page at a time. That is sometimes not very handy when it comes to photos. You often see just the top half of the photo and when you scroll down you see just the bottom half. Now you can use the free-spinning mode to smoothly bring the whole photo into view. I almost forgot: this scroll will also will tilt left and right for horizontal scrolling but you would have expected that from this mouse... If you want to have an appreciation for the precision engineering that went into crafting this MicroGear assembly you might want to check out the paper on the subject on the Logitech website.
We'll talk more about the other buttons in a moment but let's first put the basic functions of the MX to the test.
Using the MX
The MX Revolution is a perfect fit for my hand. This is very important as I easily get a cramped feeling in my hand using a mouse. I often switch over to the other hand and surprisingly, even though the MX is designed for right hand use only, this works quite well too.
The next thing you notice is how incredibly smooth the MX glides over any surface! No more mouse mat is needed. Of course the MX works straight out of the box as a normal mouse. But it is when you start using the SetPoint software that comes with it to personalise the various buttons that you realise what a mighty mouse this is!
One of the obvious enhancements on the MX Revolution is the addition of a second scroll wheel. This is the Document Quick-Flip wheel that doesn't really scroll but brings up a list of the programs running. Nudging the wheel back or forth will let you go through this list to select your program of choice. It's faster than using the taskbar. Similar efficiency can be gained by using the One-Touch Search button on top and the back and forward buttons.
One Touch Search Button allows you to do a search on a word that you highlight by going straight to Google or Yahoo! LiveWords. You can also just press the button to go to your favourite search engine. Needless to say all these buttons can be configured any way you like. Let's talk about battery life. One initial charge will give you a about a fortnight's endurance. That a full two weeks! This is for fulltime use of course and more casual users can expect a longer lifespan. It may be worthwhile unplugging the charger stand when not charging as the plug becomes quite hot.
The MX communicates wirelessly (2.4 GHz) with a USB receiver via an incredibly small USB stick and can deliver a range of up to 30 feet. The new MX is Windows XP and Vista compatible, and works just as well on the Mac platform.
I've been pretty gushing so far but are there any negatives
I've already mentioned that I would have liked a specific middle click function retained but that's about the only beef I had with the MX. Sure, at 800 DPI it's not as hi-res as some of the the high-end gaming mice out there but then again it is not specifically made for gaming. I have read reports of people having used the MX very successfully in games but I did not test this. The precision is good enough for some solid work in Photoshop or other graphics programs. We tried out some drawing and were quite pleased with the results even though I'm not an artist...
Well, you might have guessed from the foregoing that I'm pretty stoked with the Logitech MX Revolution Wireless Laser Mouse. There is in my opinion no better all-purpose mouse around! Sure, the price is fairly hefty (about $99 and cheaper if you check around) but on the Value-for-Money scale it scores extremely high too. My only gripe is to have to choose between being able to use the middle click function or the manual override for the MicroGear...
We have decided to award the MX Revolution with the highest accolades we have on our DigitalReviews Network: the Editor's Choice Award!